Today, the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), held a hearing with Dr. Tom Price, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to review President Trump’s budget proposals for policies and programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction, including Obamacare. Committee Republicans and Secretary Price discussed how both Congress and the Administration are taking action to rescue Americans from this failing law.
As Chairman Brady said at the start of the hearing:
“Obamacare is imploding as we speak. Premiums and out-of-pocket costs are skyrocketing. Choices are disappearing rapidly.”
Explaining how individuals and families in his home state have been hurt by Obamacare, Rep. George Holding (R-NC) said:
“In North Carolina, the average annual premium costs increased from $2,800 in 2013 to almost $8,000 in 2017. So obviously in my state, in just four years, premiums have almost tripled. And currently 95 of North Carolina’s 100 counties have only a single insurer in the ACA marketplace.”
When Rep. Holding asked Secretary Price what the Administration is doing to fix the broken marketplaces and provide stability for the people in North Carolina and across the country, Secretary Price responded:
“There needs to be a change in the law. The current law has resulted in what we see right now. Doubling of the premiums, individuals having deductibles that are unaffordable, the three states where the premiums have tripled, you’ve got insurers vacating the market almost by the day … The only way to fix that robustly is through a change in the legislation.”
Last month, House Republicans took action to do just that – change the health care law by passing the American Health Care Act (AHCA). This legislation, now being considered in the Senate, would deliver relief from Obamacare’s failures and lay the foundation for a 21st century health care system. As Chairman Brady explained:
“With the House’s passage of the American Health Care Act, we have taken a critical first step in our multi-phase effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. But we know there is more work to do. … To fully uproot the law and restore patient-centered care, it will take a sustained, coordinated effort from Congress, the White House, and HHS.”
“As the Senate considers the AHCA, we must work together to deliver an expedited solution to help stabilize the insurance market and help lower premiums for Americans trapped in Obamacare today. We should act within our constitutional authority now to temporarily and legally fund cost sharing reduction payments (CSRs) as we move away from Obamacare and toward a patient-centered system that truly works for the American people.”
Secretary Price also made clear the Administration is focused on stabilizing Obamacare’s collapsing individual insurance marketplace. As he noted:
“What we’re trying to do is make certain that the opportunities individuals have out there are ones that allow them to get the kind of coverage that they want. Earlier this spring, we put forward a market stabilization rule to try to make certain that insurers and states had greater opportunity to keep insurers in the market … What we’re trying to do is to work under the current construct, but the fact of the matter is that the current construct is broken and it needs to be fixed.”
Secretary Price also reinforced the Administration’s commitment to working with Congress to transfer control of health care from Washington back to the American people – promoting competition and innovation to lower costs and expand choices. Describing health care principles at the heart of the AHCA, the Secretary said:
“We believe, as I know you do, that it’s important to provide the opportunity for individuals to get the kind of coverage that they want, not what the government forces them to buy. Whatever reform comes about needs to be able to accommodate that and give an array of options and choices for individuals.
“In terms of affordability, so many things were put in place with the law we believe have made it that much more difficult for individuals to be able to afford the coverage that is available … We believe it is incredibly important to provide for folks to have the kind of coverage they want, that they can afford, yes, but that also provides them the care. Then so many of the kinds of things that empower patients, whether it’s through choices or whether it’s their ability to select their physician – making it so that patients and families and doctors are making these decisions, not Washington, D.C. Those are the principles we hope we can adhere to.”
As the Senate moves forward with our efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, House Republicans and the Administration will work toward solutions to help prevent the total collapse of Obamacare’s individual insurance marketplaces and deliver patient-centered health care that “truly works for the American people.”
CLICK HERE to learn more about today’s hearing.